In 2012 Ani Kinzang Choden was struggling on her small family farm in Bhutan, barely getting by on the meager earnings of its bamboo, walnut, and sandalwood trees. Then she heard about something new: a hardy green sapling that could thrive on her tiny Himalayan kingdom’s arid slopes.
Mountain Hazelnuts, a company promoting smallholder hazelnut production across Bhutan, gave her the saplings, inputs, and training she needed to plant her own orchard. Entering its new supply chain, her prospects soon improved.
IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) have jointly invested $6 million in Mountain Hazelnuts, boosting incomes in rural Bhutan. Farmers use land that is either degraded or unsuited to conventional agriculture to grow the hazelnuts—a tasty treat that’s both eaten plain and used in pralines, chocolate, and nut-spreads.
In time, the firm will plant 10 million new hazelnut trees across the country, buying nuts from 15,000 farmers at a guaranteed price that is expected to double their incomes.
IFC’s vision of sustainable and inclusive growth is consistent with Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. IFC is ramping up its work to support the country’s socio-economic progress using a combination of investment and advisory services.